An entirely new world

Stefan Kischka

6 questions for Stefan Kischka: “An entirely new world”

Wireless? Internet of Things (IoT)? Lots of enterprises are familiar with the term “Economy 4.0”, but not all of them know how to leverage the associated smart technologies. Stefan Kischka, Vice President Wireless/IoT at TÜV Rheinland, is here to help.

Mr. Kischka, why should companies leverage the "Internet of Things" for themselves?

The "Internet of Things", or IoT, is developing in very dynamic manner and increasingly permeates our daily lives and our economy. The chips and infrastructures are becoming cheaper, and the assortment of wireless technologies is constantly growing. There’s a suitable solution for virtually every application. Thanks to wireless IoT, services and products can be developed for entirely new business areas. Customers are also demanding as much. Anyone looking to benefit from this has to integrate their products into the data network. This represents an enormous opportunity – but it’s also an economic necessity.

What are the challenges?

The IoT is an immensely challenging subject for many companies since they are forced to venture into completely unknown territory. If, for example, a furniture manufacturer wants to build a wireless smartphone charging station into a table, the manufacturer typically has no idea when it comes to wireless technology and digital networking. For many, it’s a completely new world.

How can a company find the right wireless technology for a product?

First, you need to know where it will be used. Will the device be transmitting in the basement or in an outdoor area? Will it be plugged in, or does it need a battery? How long will the service life be? What data will be transmitted, and how often? That’s how to select technologies. The following question is just as important: in what countries will the product be sold? Every market has different compliance requirements. For example, the ZigBee standard is accepted in Europe, but not in Japan. This means: the manufacturer of a table suddenly has to provide numerous variations of its product that was previously identical around the globe. This affects lot size, unit costs, and possibly functionality. Consequently, inexperienced companies in particular should use precertified chips, antennas and modules for the respective target markets.

Sounds like a complex process ...

It is, and many companies don’t have the specialist know-how for it. Here, what’s needed is to invest in specialist staff or obtain expert help, because you won’t get very far in the Internet of Things with just a smattering of knowledge. The subject is too dynamic and multi-layered. Bad decisions, for instance when selecting wireless technology, can end up costing a lot of money.

Which is better: a proprietary insulin solution or an open standard?

Both can be justified. It depends on the specific application. Closed systems are great when it comes to fulfilling clearly defined, fixed tasks. Open standards are more flexible and usually make it easier to integrate new functions. An industry standard doesn’t necessarily represent the best technology for a specific application. In order to find it, you need to equip yourself with a broad array of knowledge. That’s why TÜV Rheinland has long been intensively involved in the committees and working groups which discuss and promote new technologies.

How does TÜV Rheinland help companies find their way to the Internet of Things?

TÜV Rheinland advises and conducts tests along the entire spectrum of wireless technologies. We’re active on all continents and are internationally networked via our testing labs and through our work in technical committees. We can provide support to customers from development through to market launch, perform functional and product safety tests, and we can assist with country-specific product approval. We stress the importance of working closely with customers right from the start in an atmosphere of trust, which makes taking the first step towards the Internet of Things as easy as 1-2-3.

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